Holden Cup wrap: Round 7
All the key stats, breakout players and talking points from Round 7 of the National Youth Competition.
Competition's best can't be separated
Was anyone surprised to see the Panthers and Sharks play out a 30-all draw at Pepper Stadium on Sunday afternoon? It was a case of history repeating after the sides played out a thrilling 34-all draw at the same venue in 2016. Penrith were in control and led 18-6 midway through the first half before the game flipped on its head when Panthers halfback Dean Blore was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul. The Sharks ran in four straight tries to hit the lead, but Penrith hit back through Brian Too and Wayde Egan to snatch a well-deserved point.
The ladder looks eerily familiar
After seven rounds, the Panthers sit atop the Holden Cup ladder with the Cowboys in second, the Dragons third and the Sharks rounding out the top four. It should be noted that North Queensland have a game in hand, but that's immaterial for now. The reason why this is significant is because it's the same top four – in order – that we saw at the end of regular season in 2016.
Greg Leleisiuao will play NRL in 2017
Mark my words: Eels winger Greg Leleisiuao will play first grade at some stage this season. Fans of the NYC will remember the nuggety outside back from his days with the Gold Coast Titans, and the youngster has carried that form to Sydney since linking up with Parramatta. Leleisiuao was our player of the round last week after running for 247 metres and breaking 18 tackles against the Warriors and he was equally impressive against the Tigers on Monday with plenty of tough carries and an acrobatic leap to bat a touch-finder back into the field of play. While those were all solid contributions, it was his scintillating solo try to start the second stanza that really stood out, with Leleisiuao beating six would-be defenders with a powerful charge through the middle before he swerved past the fullback to score under the posts.
Players of the round
We're tracking the best performances every round this year with a good old-fashioned 3-2-1 points system.
3 – Panthers skipper Wayde Egan was at his brilliant best on Sunday with two try assists in the first half before he stepped up when it mattered most to score out of dummy-half to earn his side a draw.
2 – Cowboys winger Murray Taulagi played like a man possessed with two tries, 226 metres, three line breaks and six tackle busts in his side's huge win against the Dragons.
1 – Leleisiuao and teammate Reed Mahoney – who have both polled votes this year – could have easily received a point, but we decided to give it to Eels lock Ray Stone after he bagged a first-half double, made 36 tackles and ran for 128 metres against the Tigers.
Bulldogs 30 – Rabbitohs 24
Knights 22 – Roosters 20
Broncos 20 – Titans 24
Sea Eagles 24 – Storm 14
Raiders 18 – Warriors 16
Dragons 6 – Cowboys 40
Panthers 30 – Sharks 30
Eels 48 – Wests Tigers 16